I agree with the attitude "Go anywhere.. it's all beautiful" but feel the need to jump to Venice's defence.. I went thinking I would hate it, loving the simple Italy - (Umbria in particular and it's small towns, Todi, Spoleto and tiny medieval towns such as Rotecastello) - but Venice took my breath away, it was absolutely magical and getting up to see St Mark's square at 5am for sunrise.. wow..
That said .. there wasn't a part of Rome or Firenze I didn't like.
Have a wonderful trip.. though I know already you will.
If you saw a man drowning and you could either save him or photograph the event...what kind of film would you use?
I read all of the posts of these threads and i must admit i'm proud of being Italian.
We have a lots of well known problems but we're also lucky of living in a beautiful country.
You reminded me what we (Italians) often forget (warmth of people, beauties of our cities/towns/countries).
What i can say, for all those coming to Italy, is to bring plenty of films. Xrays machins at the airports and in Saint Peter are safe until 400 or 800 iso. If you want a hand inspection you may try. Much depens on the policeman you encounter.
What i may recommend, before coming here, is to a read this book ( http://www.amazon.com/Ciao-America-I.../dp/0767912365 ). It has been written by an Italian Journalist who has lived for a while in the US. The books is about Italians on holidays in the states. It depicts, tongue-in-cheek, our plus and our minus.
Ciao a tutti
In addition to agreeing with what others have said, let me point out that the Rome airport is a *complete* *screaming* *madhouse*. It's exceedingly difficult to find your way around in, the English spoken by airport employees is sometimes rather inventive, and it's full of unintelligible signs that guide you to empty counters in areas that appear to be permanently under construction.
What I'm saying is, don't bet on being able to get a hand inspection. You might get someone genial and communicative who would love to hand-check your film while chatting about cameras; you might get the opposite; most likely you'll simply cause more confusion by asking. For what it's worth, though, they've X-rayed quite a bit of my film there without causing any problems.
Also, especially if you're flying Alitalia, be aware that they're world-famous for lost luggage. Every time I've checked a bag to Italy, it's gone for an unscheduled side trip and I've had to spend a bunch of my time in the country shopping for underwear. At the very least, don't check any of your photo gear, and if you can possibly travel entirely out of a carry-on, it would be a good idea to do so.
It's a beautiful, enjoyable, highly photogenic country. Have a good time, and expect to be planning your next trip there while you're still on the flight home.
IMHO, Florence is made for Kodachrome .
Sure is. I used 5 rolls there. The only reason it wasn't 8 is because I couldn't find anywhere locally that sold it!
Originally Posted by MattKing
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Genova is a different city - with magnificent 16th century palaces crammed into a mediaeval harbour town. I staed there for a few days two years ago, and the contrasts are stunning. The hotel we stayed in was one of those (former) palaces, our room had a stunning ceiling fresco. Right outside was a major through road, a railway station, and two blocks down you were in the real harbour. In the other direction are the cliffs, with stunning views and strange museums. And I spent an interesting half hour conversing with a former press photographer who recognised my Speed Graphic for what it was - but he spoke only Genovese, and I speak hardly any Italian at all.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
thanks for all the responses everyone! Now I'm going to spend some time researching all the places you've mentioned. I'm only going for 10 days, so now I really need to plan my itinerary well. From the sounds of it though, it looks like I'll be able to find some great shots no problem. I picked up an Italian phrases book so I'll be able to find my way walking around and ordering food. It has a small section on photography terms, but does anyone know any useful photo phrases I'll most likely have to use over there? I'm planning on taking pictures of some local people using my speed graphic, so I'm sure I'm going to get into a lot of conversations about the dinosaur of a camera I'm holding.
Actually, in the three cities you mentioned, you will probably have little problem getting by with English. In some less touristy places a phrase book might be handy. And of course in any country, knowing equivalents for yes, no, hello, goodbye and thank you can warm up contacts. On the previously mention trip, we took a day trip to Cremona, a great center of violin making (my wife and I have both dabbled a bit in stringed instruments). There is a museum there with examples by the greatest makers of all time, plus a collection of many of the tools and patterns used by Stradivari. There all the legends were in italiano, period. In the Uffizi gallery in Firenze, they had laminated cards in racks near the entrance to each gallery, available in about 30 different languages.
I may not have quite gotten the full experience, as we were traveling with a niece who did her senior year of high school over there and had lived with an Italian family for about six months so we had a full time translator. I was able to order meals and purchase some film in Italian with an extremely limited vocabulary, and made a point to do so. At the time they had only been on the Euro for a couple of months and we occasionally had the experience of a clerk adding up a number with a six-digit total (of lire), then converting to a dozen or so Euros. A bit of a jaw dropper when a couple of trinkets first showed as 337,450! By our 2005 trek, they were fully on board with the Euro.
In Firenze, thinking of the language issue, I have a couple rather humorous stories. As a primer for this, if you know Spanish (I'm on the rusty side of fluent), you've got something in the order of 25% of Italian covered. Not so much the other way round.
On the Piazza della Signoria, there is a little lunch place that sold panini and pasta. I went in for lunch, and did my best to order in Italian: "Une con salchiccha, per favore". In only modestly accented English, the clerk fired back, "That'll be 3500 Lira". She must have heard the Yankee under the Spanish accent, and had enough American tourists through to be able to spot me a mile away.
I went to this little restaurant not far from my hotel, which I picked in part because they had their menu posted out front in five different languages, including English. When I entered, the maitre d' seated me and gave me an Italian language menu, then zipped off to take care of an already seated table. Since, as previously noted, Spanish is not terribly far from Italian, I was able to read the menu reasonably well, and figured out what I wanted. When he returned to take my order, I asked in my attempt at Italian if he had an English menu, thinking if we had a problem communicating, I could always point out the item in question. I never got the chance to put forth the WHY clause to my inquiry. He snatched the Italian menu from me with a look of abject horror on his face, raced back with an English menu and left me to sit for another fifteen minutes before returning. I did my best to order in Italian, which won me a new friend for the night. The rest of the evening he doted on me, making sure everything was ok, being more solicitous than he was with his other customers. With dessert, a glass of grappa materialized on my table, but not on the bill. If you've not had grappa before, it's the distilled product of the fermented pressings of the leftover grape pulp from making wine. It's somewhere around 35-60% alcohol, and the good stuff is kinda like good vodka - it goes down smooth with little aftertaste, and has a distinctive but not unpleasant odor. Cheap grappa smells like industrial floor wax remover. This was GOOD grappa - very smooth, pleasant-smelling for grappa.
My point is that by attempting to speak Italian, no matter how fragmented, you'll earn HUGE brownie points, and the locals will go out of their way to take care of you.
On another note, I can pass along a restaurant recommendation - Il Latini (The Lantern), on Via Deli Palchetti 6R. It's in the basement, and a fantastic restaurant. Go early because you'll probably have to stand in line while you wait to get seated. If the weather is cold, the staff will emerge periodically with fresh slices of Parmesan or Asiago and cups of wine to keep you warm. You'll get seated wherever they can fit you in, with who knows who else at your table. Terrific camraderie - I ended up sitting with some Swiss, Italian and Japanese folks who did their best to include the lone American in their conversation. The restaurant is famous for their grilled meats - you can't go wrong with any of it, but if you want the Florentine Steak, come hungry - I haven't seen that much beef on a plate outside of Buenos Aires.
My most depressing linguistic experience ever was at a restaurant in Pisa.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
I'd managed to go the entire meal without speaking a word of English to the staff - I'm dreadful at languages but I always make an effort if only for the amusement of the locals wherever I am - and was feeling quite pleased with myself, until the very end of the meal after I'd paid.
The waiter come over and said something completely unintelligible. After asking him to repeat himself, I eventually had to give in and admit defeat.
With a crestfallen look he then said, in English, "I was just complimenting you on how good your Italian was!"
I was mortified .
Another day goes under; a little bourbon will take the strain...